The Journey that makes us… RSIC2016

By Katie Di Feliciantonio on 05/12/2016

In October 2016, Aiglon in Switzerland and Stiftung Louisenlund in Germany jointly hosted the annual Round Square International Conference with 996 delegates from 40 countries attending. With Round Square celebrating its 50th anniversary, students explored the theme ‘The Journey that Makes Us’ and considered the adventure life presents us and the growth, learning and personal development we undertake in our lifetimes.

Across both venues this conference was an action-packed, vibrant, social and intellectual occasion. Round Square President His Majesty King Constantine opened the Conference at Aiglon and closed it at Stiftung Louisenlund, in between participating alongside the student and adult delegates in the range of activities between the two.

Students took part in group discussions, workshops, cultural visits, service and adventure activity, but the real highlight of RSIC2016 was the Keynote Speakers. In addition to His Majesty, these included The Aga Khan; Polar Explorer, Ben Saunders; Neuroscientist, Professor Manfred Spitzer; Formula One Driver, Sir Jackie Stewart; Astronaut, Al Worden; Brigadier John Deverell; Journalist, Souad Mekhennet; Astronomer Nick Howes; Allessandra Morelli, Koome Gikunda; Alessandro Barel Di Sant Albano; Elizabeth Turner; Meagan Fallone; Andrejka Bernatova; Alessandro Borghese and Round Square Student and Kurt Hahn Prize winner Saria Samakie.

Mark Grist was my favourite speaker,” says Shaswat Mimani from Mayo College in India “he had an amazing story to tell us about himself and he could capture the attention of everybody keep us so enthralled that made us very interested in listening to him.”

Ben Saunders was my favourite Keynote speaker” McKenzie Kupi from Saint Andrew's School in the US “he taught me to strive towards my goals, but appreciate the journey. As he stated, there is not a pot of gold at the end of the journey, the gold is sprinkled throughout.”

Students worked together in Barraza Groups to explore topical issues and unpick key themes raised by the Keynote Speakers.

We often formed a ‘round robin’ session which forced every member of the group to push their limits and speak.” Explains Shivikha Shivananda from Indian High School in Dubai.

Working in the Baraza Group helped me to improve my listening skills and it improved my approach to entering a discussion.” Reflects Angus McVean from Gordonstoun School in the UK.

It was an exhilarating week, punctuated with hikes in the mountains and sailing on lakes and opportunities to absorb German and Swiss Culture. Students took part in both Service and Adventure activity, designed to push them beyond their preserved limits, cross boundaries and discover that they are capable of more than they thought.

I feel that this whole conference was a stretch beyond my normal capabilities. Taking part in activities that I wouldn’t normally try made it so much more fulfilling. I feel that I have overcome my fears and could survive and have fun out in the world in a different speaking country by myself.” Explains Sabrina Lowther from The Bermuda High School in Bermuda. “I learnt to have more faith in myself and my capabilities. I also discovered that I do enjoy the thrill of the adventure parks, zip-lines, heights and high ropes more than I expected.”

Another highlight for the trip, which was nearly everyone’s favourite part of the entire conference, was the amazing cultural evening” says Hayley Barrow from Ballarat Grammar School in Australia. With delegates from over 40 countries attending the conference, the student cultural performances made for exciting evenings of entertainment, showcasing international talent that celebrated the diversity of the Round Square network and each school's rich cultural heritage in a riot of colour and rhythm.

"It was really amazing to see all the different cultures in the same room performing all their different dances.” says Gaby from Glenlyon Norfolk School “But there was a sense of unity in that we were all supporting each other in our different cultures." 

RSIC2016 encouraged students to discover and embrace the similarities and differences between their cultures and nationalities in ways that promote a meaningful and lasting understanding. “Meeting people from different parts of the world provided me with a great amount of knowledge about their country as well as culture.” Vasundhara Jethi from Pathways World School in India “it is crucial to have this inclusive outlook for global relations.”

“I really felt connected to the world when I was in the conference, seeing so many people from so many different places.” said Rosemary Ng from St. Paul's Co-educational College in Hong KongChristine, Student from Glenlyon Norfolk School in Canada agrees "It was a great opportunity to make new friends and learn how to work as a team." 

Congratulations to both Aiglon and Stiftung Louisenlund for hosting successful and exciting conferences that have been life-changing experience for many of the delegates; “I believe I will now be more aware of everything around me and I will focus more on the little things instead of the big picture things” reflects Clare Broomby from Scotch Oakburn College in Australia “It's given me a major character strength in focusing on the journey and not just the end goal.”